May 12 – It’s National Family Month

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About the Holiday

Established by KidsPeace, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families since 1882, National Family Month is observed during the five-week period between Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. It coincides with the usual end of the school year, and raises awareness of the important role mothers and fathers play as a support system for their children. To observe the holiday spend time talking with your kids about topics of importance to them and plan activities  for fun and to help them achieve their goals.

Thank you to Familius for sharing a digital copy of Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby

Written by Tracy C. Gold | Illustrated by Adèle Dafflon

 

It’s getting late and mom and dad can hardly keep their eyes open. Even the dog is dog tired. But the baby? The baby is wide awake and playing with the toys. Maybe a bath with “sleepy water, / sleepy bubbles, / sleepy bathtub” will help. But no, the baby grabs the brush for a “scrub, scrub, scrub.”

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Image copyright Adèle Dafflon, 2021, text copyright Tracy C. Gold, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

The baby’s stuffed animals are ready to rest, and outside the “sleepy moon, / sleepy stars,” and “sleepy night sky” watch over the little creatures in their nests. Yes, “everyone’s sleepy but the baby, / why? why? why?” Mom’s falling asleep in the rocker, and the dog is curled up near the crib, but the baby is drinking a bottle. Everything’s quiet, everything’s still, everyone’s sleeping. Even baby? Ahhh… Shhh….

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Image copyright Adèle Dafflon, 2021, text copyright Tracy C. Gold, 2021. Courtesy of Familius.

We’ve all had those nights – maybe even every night for what seems forever – when Baby just won’t go to sleep. But Tracy Gold has a fix for that with her adorable rhyming story that’s as calming as a lullaby. Her gentle cadence and soothing words are relaxing for the littlest will-be-sleepers, and her easy repeated phrases give toddlers a fun way to join in the reading. Weary parents or caregivers will appreciate Gold’s empathetic humor that echoes those nightly questions about their baby’s sleep patterns: When? and Why?

In her vibrant, hilarious illustrations, Adèle Dafflon depicts that nightly struggle for adults to stay awake long enough to get their little one to sleep. While everyone else is flagging – eyes at half-mast or closed – Baby is wide awake and playing, eyes bright and shiny. Little ones will love Dafflon’s images of the baby’s toys, the sweetly smiling moon, stars, and backyard animals, and familiar scenes of home.

A bedtime board book that will be a favorite of both adults and little ones for nightly story times, Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby would make a perfect baby shower or new baby gift and is a must for families, schools, and public libraries.

Ages Baby – 3

Familius, 2021 | ISBN 978-1641704403

You can find more books from Familius that joyfully reflect the habits of happy families, including reading, talking, laughing, eating, working, loving, healing, learning, and playing together as well as the Familius blog The Habit Hub here.

Discover more about Tracy C. Gold and her books on her website.

To learn more about Adèle Dafflon, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Family Month Activity

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Snuggle Buddy Craft

 

It’s easy to make your own snuggle buddy with a few pieces of fleece, some fiber fill, and a needle and thread or fabric glue. The great thing about creating your own friend is you can personalize your pal anyway you want!

Supplies

  • 1 8-inch by 11-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the body (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project). A larger piece of fleece can be used to make a larger buddy
  • 1 5-inch by 8-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the hair (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project)
  • 1 small piece of fleece or other material for a pocket, clothes, or blanket
  • Small scraps of fleece or other material for the face
  • Fiber Fill
  • Thread and sewing needle OR fabric glue
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Fold the large piece of fleece in half lengthwise and sew along the open side and along the bottom. Alternatively, if using a larger size piece of fleece, fold upward and sew the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out
  3. Stuff the body with fiber fill

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a piece of fleece as wide as your buddy and about 7 – 8 inches long
  2. Fold the fleece lengthwise
  3. Insert both ends of the fleece into the opening at the top of the body
  4. Sew the opening shut, securing the hair
  5. Cut strips about ¼-inch wide from the top of the hair to close to where the hair is sown into the body

To Make a Pocket or Clothes

  1. Cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a pocket, shirt, pants, diaper, or blanket
  2. Sew the pocket or clothes to the buddy

To Make the Face

  1. Cut eyes, a nose, and a mouth in whatever way you would like your buddy to look. 
  2. Sew the face to the buddy

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To purchase Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby from Familius click here.

 

You can find Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from 

Bookshop | IndieBound 

Picture Book Review

March 23 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of I Miss Your Sunny Smile and Interview with Deb Adamson

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About the Holiday

It’s National Reading Month, the perfect time to celebrate a book birthday! Today I’m excited to be featuring a sweet board book for the littlest readers that parents and caregivers will love sharing to make every day better. 

Thanks to Blue Manatee Press for sharing a digital copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with Deb Adamson in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

I Miss Your Sunny Smile

Written by Deb Adamson | Illustrated by Anne Zimanski

 

On a rainy day a mom sits with her son watching out the window. The little boy is sad, and Mom is trying to cheer him up. She suggests going in search of his smile. They head to the living room and Mom makes a game of it—and even their dog joins in. “Did it roll under the sofa? / Is it with marbles in the dark? / Do you think your smile will make a show / if we wag our tails and bark?”

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Image copyright Anne Zimanski, 2021, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2021. Courtesy of Blue Manatee Press.

They look in the cookie jar and play dress up, but still the little boy wears a frown. Maybe dancing or playing peek-a-boo will help him find his smile. Even while he’s playing, though, something else is on his mind. He and his mom continue the search. At the boy’s bedroom door, they spy two fuzzy ears peeking out of the blanket. “Wait!” says Mom. “Is that your smile napping? / All cozy in your bed?”

They tiptoe in and lift the covers. There is Teddy—and the boy’s smile. The little boy hugs his teddy bear and grins from ear to ear. Outside the rain has stopped and the sun has come out. The boy, Teddy, and Mom take a walk to the park, ready to enjoy their day.

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Image copyright Anne Zimanski, 2021, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2021. Courtesy of Blue Manatee Press.

All little ones have moments when things aren’t going right or they feel afraid or worried. Deb Adamson’s sweet story lets parents and caregivers show their little ones that feeling sad can be temporary and that adults are there to help them by talking about what’s bothering them or trying to find out in other ways. When children aren’t old enough or don’t know how to express their feelings yet, playing with them, having a snack, or just spending time together can lead to happiness. Kids will be charmed by Adamson’s tender rhyming storytelling that reveals a loving mother and son bond and will be reassured when the boy finds his teddy bear—and his smile.

Anne Zimanski’s lovely illustrations show a mother fully engaged with helping her son feel happy again. Children will love her detailed images of home that create a cozy atmosphere as well as the enthusiastic dog that joins in on the search, snack time, and playtime. The characters’ facial expressions clearly show the mother’s love and patience and the little boy’s sadness, discontent, and worry. When the teddy bear is found, the boy’s smile is infectious. This scene is made even more endearing as Teddy’s floppy arms wrap around the boy as he hugs his favorite friend.

An enchanting story for families to share during those times when a little encouragement and understanding are needed as well as for quiet story times full of love and reassurance.

Ages Baby – 4

Blue Manatee Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1936669875

Discover more about Deb Adamson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Anne Zimanski, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Meet Deb Adamson

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Deb Adamson’s children’s books can be silly, sweet and sometimes even a little bit quirky. Her goal is to always bring on a sunny smile! She lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and orange cat extraordinaire, Lumpy.

You can connect with Deb Adamson on her website | Facebook | Twitter 

Hi Deb! It’s wonderful to be talking with you about your latest book! You’ve had such a varied career in all types of communications jobs—from being a broadcast news journalist and syndicated columnist to working as a public relations spokesperson for a major aquarium to becoming a published picture book author. Do you feel like your previous jobs have led you to writing for children? What do you like most about this genre?

I do feel that my previous careers have influenced my children’s books. As a writer, I feel like everything we do colors our work. And the varied career I’ve had definitely shows up in my  books. Writing can be such a magical pursuit. We draw from all aspects of experience. The subconscious is tapped and what we didn’t even know was a focus or deep impression makes an appearance on the page. I love the saying, “What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.” That goes for writing. I guess for me, once a journalist, always a journalist because  a few of my story ideas came from news stories that sparked an interest. And animals, whether marine or not, seem to more often than not, make a cameo in most of my books. I have to add though, that even through all those careers, I was reading children’s books and writing and querying children’s manuscripts. My first book was published while I was working at the Aquarium. Even before I had my son, there was something about writing for children that called to me. So, this has actually been my preferred career choice for many years now. I consider myself really lucky to finally call this my current vocation!

Have you always loved to write? Who were you influenced by while growing up?

I’ve always loved to read and to write. I was most influenced by my mother. She was a voracious reader. She wrote herself and believed in the power of story. Even though I was barely six years old, I still have vivid memories of the newest branch of our city library opening a half mile from my house. I recall frequently skipping along the sidewalk with her to that library and carrying home stacks of books. Such happy memories.

What inspired you to write I Miss Your Sunny Smile? Can you tell readers a little about your process in writing it?

I am big believer at cultivating emotional intelligence. (I have a shelf lined with self-improvement books!) As adults we come to learn that bad days come and go. So, we focus on what is good in our lives and hopefully are able to put most things in perspective. Little ones have yet to acquire those skills, therefore it is up to us to model a healthy approach. This little book is my attempt at helping parents guide young children ages one through four, through a bad day. The mom in the book is attempting to lighten the situation with distraction and humor, which is a great tool for redirecting feelings in young children. It is my hope that parents will remember the message of distraction and recall it whenever they need it. Even though it has been over 16 years, I certainly remember needing a book like this when my own son was a toddler!

Anne Zaminski’s warm illustrations show such a sweet relationship between the mother and her child. What were your first thoughts when you saw them? Do you have a favorite spread?

I cannot gush enough about Anne Zimanski’s art for this book! The illustrations are somewhat retro. The color is vivid. The emotion she captured is spot-on. We picture book authors are lucky to be paired with such talent. Anne really brought the characters to life, just as I had imagined. I could not be more pleased. If I had to pick a favorite spread it’s the one where the mom, child, and dog are looking under the sofa barking and wagging tails searching for a smile! I imagine that one generating giggles.

Your Twitter followers have been introduced to your cat whom you affectionately call Fatty Lumpkin, or Lumpy for short. Can you tell us a little about him?

Lumpy, like most author cats, is my constant companion.He is usually somewhere in the room, contentedly snoozing, just glad to have me nearby.  And yes! He has been my muse. I was not always a cat person. I grew up with dogs and just never knew a cat until as a young adult. I moved away and decided to adopt one. Then I learned about cats’ many charms. I actually wrote a manuscript inspired by that fact, that many people label themselves one or the other—cat or dog person, but usually not both. That’s often because they just don’t take the time to familiarize themselves with the great differences in cat and dog behavior. The manuscript is  super silly! My agent and I are hoping that one finds a home.

What’s the best part about being a children’s writer?

The best part of being a children’s book writer is losing myself in story and then ultimately sharing what I cultivated with children and families. I think most writers enjoy finding some universal truth that will ultimately reach out and touch the reader. And when that reader is a child it takes on that much more meaning and pleasure. But of course, not all children’s book writing has to have such depth. Like I said, books for kids should also just be written to encourage the pure pleasure of reading. I really enjoy knowing that my books generate laughs!

What’s up next for you?

I have three children’s books coming out in 2021 and one in 2022. I cannot even believe that, myself! I Miss Your Sunny Smile board book in March, Bing Bang Pling, Now We Swing, a picture book this summer, and A Christmas Eve Wish For Santa, a picture book in the fall. Needless to say, I will be especially busy with marketing. And then in 2022, Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, a nonfiction picture book is next.

Thanks, Deb! It’s been great chatting with you! I wish you all the best with I Miss Your Sunny Smile and all of your upcoming books!

I Miss Your Sunny Smile Giveaway

I’m happy to be partnering with Deb Adamson in a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile written by Deb Adamson | Illustrated by Anne Zimanski

Here’s how to enter:

This giveaway is open from March 23 through March 30 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on March 31

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Deb Adamson.

If you would like a signed copy of I Miss Your Sunny Smile, you can order from Bank Square Books.

I Miss Your Sunny Smile Activity

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Teddy Bear Coloring Page

 

Enjoy some teddy bear love with this printable coloring page!

Teddy Bear Coloring Page

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You can also find I Miss Your Sunny Smile at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 20 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Love Can Come in Many Ways

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About the Holiday

Today I’m celebrating the book birthday of a tender board book that when shared between an adult and a child can help build strong loving bonds that can lead little ones to become happy and self-confident children. These are qualities that are also honored today during National Youth Confidence Day, which encourages us to connect with and inspire today’s youth to succeed tomorrow. National Youth Confidence Day celebrates the energy, spirit, and potential of young people. The day is an acknowledgment of all they will accomplish, and kids can accomplish anything when they know they’re loved.

Thanks go to Chronicle Books for sending me a copy of Love Can Come in Many Ways for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m excited to be teaming with Chronicle in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Love Can Come in Many Ways

Written by Terry Pierce | Illustrated by Suzy Ultman

 

How do you share your love for your little one; young grandchild, niece, nephew, or cousin; student; or other child of your heart? With a kiss, a hug, a smile? Or maybe you have a secret signal that only the two of you know. In this adorable board book, animal families of all kinds reveal that “nose to nose or gaze to gaze. / Love can come in many ways.”

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Image copyright Suzy Ultman, 2020, text copyright Terry Pierce, 2020. Courtesy of Chronicle.

Elephants snuggle their kids behind an ear or hug them with their trunk. Swans hold them close with their wings, and froggies feel love “through lively songs that Mama sings.”  Whether their held tight in paws or jaws, panda cubs know their loved. Some babies ride on Mama’s back or within her furry coat. While penguin chicks are warmed with love “atop a papa’s sturdy feet.”

Each animal—and person—has a special way to say that “you are loved.” But no matter if it’s a “helpful hand” or “a gentle squeeze. / Love is kindness, comfort, peace.”

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Image copyright Suzy Ultman, 2020, text copyright Terry Pierce, 2020. Courtesy of Chronicle.

Terry Pierce’s lilting verses, as gentle as a lullaby, will warm a little one’s heart as they cuddle up with an adult to hear—and see—how various animals embrace their own babies. Pierce wraps readers in cozy, comforting words and a soothing rhythm that are perfect for naptime, bedtime, or when a little extra snuggle is needed. Little ones will be surprised, delighted, and full of giggles as they learn about the ingenuity of nature.

With stylish flair and softly rounded shapes, Suzy Ultman creates original and eye-catching pages that will charm little readers and adults. Whimsical touches, such as jaunty hats, round eyeglasses, and potted plants, go hand-in-paw with Ultman’s lovely color palette to make pages that are as adorable as they are enchanting. And no little fingers will be able to resist lifting the vibrant felt flaps to take a peek at the sweet baby animals snuggling with their mom or dad.

Endearing to the max, Love Can Come in Many Ways is a board book will be a treasured gift for baby showers and new babies, and is a must for home, school, and public libraries.

Ages Birth – 3

Chronicle Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1452172606

Discover more about Terry Pierce and her books on her website.

To learn more about Suzy Ultman, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Love Comes in Many Ways Giveaway

I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Chronicle Books in a giveaway for two lucky winners. Each winner will win

  • One (1) copy of Love Can Come in Many Ways, written by Terry Pierce | illustrated by Suzy Ultman

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Bonus: Reply with your child’s favorite animal for extra entry. Each reply earns you one extra entry

This giveaway is open from October 20 to October 26 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on October 27. 

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Chronicle Books

Love Can Come in Many Ways Book Birthday Activity

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Elephant Handprint Painting

 

This easy craft is fun for adults and kids to do together and can make a nice decoration for a child’s room and reminder of a parent’s, grandparent’s, or caregiver’s love.

Supplies

  • Craft paint in two colors of the children’s choice
  • Yellow craft paint
  • Black fin-tip marker
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils to make a background
  • Paper
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint one child’s hand and press it on the paper. The thumb is the truck and the fingers the legs.
  2. Paint the second child’s hand and press it on the paper near the other “elephant.” A couple of examples are: the elephants standing trunk to trunk or trunk to tail 
  3. After the paint has dried, draw on ears and an eye
  4. Add a sun with the yellow paint
  5. Add grass, trees, or other background features

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You can find Love Can Come in Many Ways at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 10 – National I Love Yarn Day

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About the Holiday

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, National I Love Yarn Day was established for knitters, crocheters, and other yarn enthusiasts to share their art and what they love about yarn crafting. Knitting and crocheting not only creates cozy wearables and distinctive decor, but provides an activity that can be relaxing and calming during periods when you just need some down time. To learn more about the holiday, find free patterns, enter giveaways, and learn how you can share your love of yarn, visit the Craft Yarn Council website.

Where Is My Pink Sweater?

By Nicola Slater

 

One morning when Rudy woke up, his beloved pink sweater was gone. Sure, “it was a bit too small and showed his belly button. But it was his favorite.” He went to look for it in his tall wardrobe, but all he found was “TEN tumbling cats.” They provided a clue that went like this: “Follow the trail / follow the string / to find your favorite / wooly thing!” Rudy looked down and saw a long strand of pink yarn running along the floor and down the stairs.

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Copyright Nicola Slater, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Downstairs, Rudy spied “NINE jiving llamas in fancy-pants pajamas.” They were so busy eating and sipping and dancing under the disco ball, that they never even saw Rudy. But Rudy noticed the string of yarn and followed it. In the kitchen, “EIGHT prima pigerinas” were pirouetting and having tea. They poured Rudy a cup, and while he was enjoying it, he heard a creak.

He took a quick peek in the basement and saw “SEVEN ski-dogs slaloming on the stairs.” They were all wearing something pink, but not his sweater. Back upstairs in the bathroom, Rudy called out to the “SIX soapy blackbirds.” They answered with same clue the cats had given him, so he followed the string out the window…and into a wading pool, where no one wore a sweater bathing suit. The string continued into the sewer, around a worm, past a little bug, and through the house of “FOUR muttering mice” who offered him cheese and a bit of advice. It led him to a croc-cupied outhouse “but no sweater.”

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Copyright Nicola Slater, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Here the string ended. Rudy was sad that he hadn’t found his favorite sweater. He couldn’t imagine who would have wanted it. He was pondering this question when out of the bushes popped “Trudy! His number ONE sister.” She was wearing his sweater and it fit just right. It was true that “Rudy loved his sweater, but he loved Trudy more.” And just then he knew he was ready for the pink surprise his friends had brought. 

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Copyright Nicola Slater, 2019, courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Nicola Slater’s charming mystery for the littlest readers entices them to follow the pink string to solve this adorable whodunit. Along the way they discover a decreasing number of suspects behind flaps and cut outs on Slater’s vibrant and action-packed pages. Adults will enjoy the nods to mystery tropes, including a fantastical wardrobe, a creaky basement door, and a steamy bathroom, while kids will just love all the lively shenanigans going on in Rudy’s house and neighborhood.

Slater’s lyrical storytelling includes jaunty alliteration, humor, and well-paced, gentle suspense that will keep readers guessing while they practice their counting. The sweet solution to the mystery is family- and sibling-relationship affirming. Rudy’s love for his little sister and hers for Rudy shine and will make readers both young and older smile.

An enchanting read aloud board book for little readers and especially for family story times, Where Is My Pink Sweater? would make a wonderful gift and a favorite addition to home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5 

Abrams Appleseed, 2019 | ISBN 978-1419736797

To see a portfolio of work by Nicola Slater visit Good Illustration

National Knit a Sweater Month Activity

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Design Your Own Sweater

 

If you could design your own sweater, what would it look like? Would it have stripes? Polka dots? A picture of a puppy, kitten, train, truck, or the logo of your favorite sports team? Use this printable Design Your Own Sweater template and have a bit of fashionable fun!

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You can find Where Is My Pink Sweater? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

BookshopIndieBound

September 27 – National Family Day

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About the Holiday

The purpose of today’s holiday is simple—to fully appreciate the family one has, whether it is small or large, whether members live close together or far apart. The founders of Family Day, which is celebrated on different dates around the world, wanted people to relax their busy schedules and spend time with those they love in a meaningful and fun way. This year we may be spending more time with family than usual, which has led to some thoughtful, creative, and fun ways to pass the time. To honor today’s holiday, let your family members know how much they mean to you. 

What is a Family?

Written by Annette Griffin | Illustrated by Nichola Cowdery

 

Early in life, little ones—loved by mom and dad, two moms, or two dads and perhaps siblings; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; and other extended family members—discover that all of these people are their family. But they may wonder: what does that word really mean? As kids play with their pets, visit zoos and aquariums, and read about animals, they may also wonder if animals have families. What is a Family? answers these questions with bouncy rhymes that introduce children to an alphabetic variety of animals and the scientific names of their groups. But first, it answers that most important question and reveals that “Families are groups / that take care of their own. / They all stick together / to help make a home.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-groups

Image copyright Nichola Cowdery, 2020, text copyright Annette Griffin, 2020. Courtesy of Familius.

At A,B, and C kids learn that “Ants have a colony. / Bats have a cloud. / Chickens have peeps / where they can get loud.” The names of many family groups seem perfectly fitting for the animals’ personalities or traits. Take these at M,N, and O, for instance: “Mice have their mischiefs, / and narwhals, a blessing. / Oysters have beds— / not for sleeping, I’m guessing.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-ants

Image copyright Nichola Cowdery, 2020, text copyright Annette Griffin, 2020. Courtesy of Familius.

Little ones will love and take pride in learning about unusual animals, like quail, umbrellabirds, and xerus as well as the clever names for their family groups in Annette Griffin’s charming verses that provide a smattering of behavioral facts about the animals along the way. Griffin ends her story with this snug reassurance: “…families are special, / though not all the same. / It’s the caring and sharing / that gives them the name” that can lead adults and children to discuss the variety of families, cultures, and traditions that make up our world.

Nichola Cowdery populates this nicely sized, soft-covered board book with adorable birds, fish, reptiles, and forest, jungle, and plains animals set in their realistic habitats. Her vibrant colors and whimsical details will captivate young readers. Little ones will also be drawn to the images of the ways in which babies and adult animals interact. There’s plenty here to set little learners giggling too, which enhances the reading experience.

Sure to be a family favorite for story time and bedtime, What is a Family? would be an endearing and educational book to add to home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 1 – 5

Familius, 2020 | ISBN 978-1641702447

Discover more about Annette Griffin and her books on her website.

To learn more about Nichola Cowdery, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Family Day Activity

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Match Up the Animals! Game

 

Match up animal family members in this fun printable game that tests your powers of memory!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Animal Pairs Cards, print two pages to have double cards. To make the game more difficult print 3 or more pages to find 3 or more groups of matching animals
  2. Color the cards
  3. Cut out the cards
  4. Lay the cards face down on a table in random order
  5. Turn over cards to look for matching pairs
  6. When you find a matching pair leave the cards face up
  7. Continue playing until you find all the matching animal pairs or groups

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what-is-a-family-cover

You can find What is a Family? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

September 21 – International Day of Peace

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About the Holiday

The International Day of Peace is a United Nations sponsored holiday, which is dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace by observing twenty-four hours of non-violence and ceasefire. Each year the holiday focuses on a theme. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s theme is “Shaping Peace Together” The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together,” with the idea that people celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope as the world struggles with a common problem. People are also asked to stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. To learn more, visit the United Nations website. Of course, for little ones, the values of peace and harmony begin at home. With today’s book, you can pass this comfort on to your children.

Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home

Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall | Illustrated by Ag Jatkowska

 

In her sweet ode to shalom bayit—a Hebrew phrase that means “peace of the home,” and celebrates the Jewish value of the home as a sanctuary from the stresses, worries, and noise of the outside world—Linda Elovitz Marshall gives parents and caregivers a book to share with their youngest children that shows that no matter whether a home is a den or a castle, it is a place where they can find contentment. With tranquil rhyming verses, Marshall introduces little ones to cozy nests, dens, underground tunnels, and other places where animals make their snug homes. “Shalom bayit, / bayit shalom! / Quiet places, / peaceful homes.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shalom-bayit-robins

Image copyright Ag Jatkowska, 2020, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2020. Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing.

In her nest on a high branch, a mother robin and father robin watches over their five babies, while below a squirrel fills a hole in the tree trunk with soft leaves and a mouse snoozes in a small cave in the roots. Turtles, worms, frogs, and a fox also happily make their homes in the pond and grounds nearby. From this calm, bucolic scene, Marshall takes children into a house, where three children spend time with their family, cuddled up with Mom as Dad reads a story. “A home’s a cozy, restful place, / a safe and loving family space,” Marshall says. “Shalom bayit, / bayit shalom.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shalom-bayit-home

Image copyright Ag Jatkowska, 2020, text copyright Linda Elovitz Marshall, 2020. Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing.

Ag Jatkowska accompanies Marshall’s gently flowing verses with lovely illustrations of the sun-dappled banks of a pond and the natural places a variety of animals call home. The adorable squirrels, turtle, frogs, fox, worms, robins, and mice as well as the trees and flowers are painted in a calming, yet vibrant color palette that will enchant little readers. Jatkowska’s final spread of a happy home, where a fire burns in the fireplace as the family enjoys a relaxing evening together is a loving portrayal of the meaning of shalom bayit.

A charming board book to inspire comforting story times or bedtimes—especially during these challenging times—Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home would be a favorite on home bookshelves and is highly recommended for school and public library collections. The book would also make an excellent gift.

Ages 1 – 4

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2020 | ISBN 978-1541542471

Discover more about Linda Elovitz Marshall and her books on her website.

To learn more about Ag Jatkowska and see a portfolio of her work, visit her page at The Bright Agency.

International Day of Peace Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peaceful-home-craft

Peaceful Home Craft

 

Kids squabbling over what to do or bored because there’s nothing to do? With this easy-to-make craft, kids can find activities to do with siblings, parents, or other caregivers to pass the time and have fun together. Kids can recreate their own house or make a house from their imagination.

Supplies

  • Small recycled box
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Colored Pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Wide craft sticks

Directions

  1. Tape closed the open end of a small box 
  2. Wrap box in white or colored paper
  3. Cut a wide slot on one side of the roof for the sticks
  4. Draw features of the house on the front, sides, and back
  5. Think of ideas that kids can do together by themselves or with an adult and write one on each stick
  6. Put the sticks in the slot
  7. When there’s free time, choose a stick and have fun with that activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shalom-bayit-cover

You can find Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

July 27 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! and ¡Brilla, brilla, pañalito! / Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You!

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About the Holiday

It’s always a cause for celebration when a new book joins the Small Talk Books series family! The partnership of Ellen Mayer and Ying-Hwa Hu has created adorable books aimed at bringing joy and teachable moments to everyday chores and time spent with little ones. To see more books in the series, visit Star Bright Books.

Much thanks to Star Bright Books for sending me a copy of Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! 

¡Brilla, brilla, pañalito! / Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You!

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu | Translated by Eida Del Risco

A little one “Oohs” while nestled in Mama’s arms, letting her know how uncomfortable they feel. With a sweet smile, Mama echoes her baby’s “Ooh-ooh!” and begins a reassuring conversation: “‘You want a clean diaper, don’t you?’” she says. She takes her baby to the changing table and turns the baby’s fretting into smiles and giggles as she lovingly talks, plays, and sings with her little one. As she gently cleans her baby’s bottom, Mom sings her own version of a favorite classic. “‘Twinkle, twinkle, diaper you–– / Clean your bottom, no more poo.’” Baby laughs and kicks her feet as Mama and the soothing wipes make everything better.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-clean

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2020, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2020. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Engaging her baby with eye contact, smiles, and full-sentence descriptions of what she is doing, while mirroring baby’s facial expressions and sounds, Mama turns the frequent job of diapering into a fun bonding and learning experience for both. As she finishes up, she says, “‘Let’s close your diaper up—SNIP, SNUP. What a big smile, Baby. And I’m smiling too,’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-smile

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2020, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2020. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

After Baby is all clean and freshly diapered, Mom takes a minute to share extra quality time with her precious little one – “‘Ready, Sweet Baby…? Here comes a tummy smooch!’” – and continue her song: “‘Twinkle, twinkle, diaper do– / Kiss on tummy, just for you.’” What does Baby have to say? A very satisfied, “‘OOOOOH!’” Then, as big sister peeks over the edge of the table, it’s time for cuddly pajamas and, finally, snuggling on the couch with family, a book, and a last twinkling verse.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-family-bilingual-version

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2020, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2020. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

A Note for Parents, Grandparents, and Caregivers by Dr. Betty Bardige, an expert on language and literacy development in young children, reveals the important connection between talking, singing, and playing with babies and their language learning. Bardige goes on to provide tips for interacting with your child and following their cues as well as for how to share this book with little ones.

Ellen Mayer’s newest addition to her Small Talk Books series is a charming story that little ones will eagerly respond to and which can help parents turn diaper time into a joyful experience full of opportunities for language and literacy development. Mayer’s clever take on the kid-favorite Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, is infectious and fun for adults to sing while reading with their baby and while diapering. Sweet endearments, playful words, and even a tummy kiss realistically reflect the loving relationship parents and caregivers share with their little ones.

Children love and respond positively to routine, and the frequency of diaper changing makes this one of babies’ first familiar experiences. Adding parental conversation, songs, smiles, and mirroring of the child’s sounds, expressions, and motions to the dedicated time diapering takes creates a rich educational environment for baby to listen to caregivers and begin the basic foundations of language learning.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-kick-bilingual-version

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2020, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2020. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

In ¡Brilla, brilla, pañalito! / Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! the story is charmingly translated into Spanish by Eida Del Risco. Spanish verses share two-page spreads with the English translation, providing a rich reading experience for native Spanish speakers, bilingual families, and those parents interested in teaching their children Spanish.

Mayer’s storytelling in Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! as in all of the books in her series depicts realistic conversation that even the youngest babies will recognize while modeling words and simple, but meaningful sentences for adults to share with little ones. As readers grow, they will be happy to join in on the story by repeating the baby’s coos and actions. Sharing the book with toddlers who are not yet potty trained can give them an opportunity to explain to parents the steps of diaper changing—an exercise that strengthens body awareness, memory, vocabulary, sequencing awareness, and language skills.

Ying-Hwa Hu’s bright illustrations, sprinkled with silver stars that glitter on the page, will delight little readers. Her clean lines and soothing color palette create a pleasing backdrop to familiar details that give adults plenty to point out and name while reading. The centerpiece of each page is the relationship between mother and child and reflects actions, such as making eye and physical contact, that enhance a child’s learning and self-confidence. Hu’s adorable baby giggles and belly laughs as Mama smiles and talks lovingly while changing and then cuddling her little one. The appearance of the baby’s big sister (perhaps still using diapers herself, or recently transitioned to underwear), makes this a book that will appeal to a wide range of ages. The final spread of the baby’s family reading and cuddling together is heartwarming.

A delightful book for parents and caregivers to share with babies and toddlers, Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! makes a sparkling baby shower or new baby gift as well as a perfect addition to home, daycare, preschool, and public library board book and parenting collections. The book will also appeal to older children who have babies in the family or enjoy playing with their dolls.

Ages Birth – 3

Star Bright Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1595728937 (English edition) | ISBN 978-1595728944 (Spanish/English bilingual edition)

About the Author

Ellen Mayer is a writer with a background in early childhood and parent education. She has worked as a researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, studying family engagement in children’s learning. She has also worked as an early literacy home visitor with a diverse community of families, supporting young children in early language development through book sharing and play. Ellen held a writing fellowship for Math Picture Book Authors, from the Heising-Simons Foundation, and is a visiting author with the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative of the Somerville, MA Public Schools. Ellen writes her children’s books to entertain and educate both children and the adults who read to them. She holds an M.Phil. in Sociology from Columbia University. You can connect with Ellen Mayer  on her website.

About the Illustrator

Ying-Hwa Hu is an award-winning illustrator. Her work has been exhibited at the Bologna Book Fair and The Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two children. You can connect with Ying-Hwa Hu on her website.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! Book Birthday Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-mobile-craft

Twinkle, Twinkle Star Mobile Craft

A mobile hanging over a baby’s crib or diaper-changing table engages little ones with its movement, colors, and shapes. With this craft, you can create a twinkly mobile for your baby!

Supplies

  • Printable Star Templates: 2- and 3-inch Stars | Variety of Star Sizes
  • Wooden flat floral frame with eight holes around the rim, available at craft stores. Alternatively, an embroidery hoop or wire floral frame can be used.
  • White 1/8-inch by 10-yard ribbon, or color of your choice
  • 2 or 3 Yellow adhesive foam glitter sheets. (You will need 3 stars to make each 3D star on the mobile.)
  • 2 or 3 Silver adhesive foam glitter sheets. (You will need 3 stars to make each 3D star on the mobile.)
  • Medium sized wooden or plastic beads
  • Small to medium size metal, wood, or sturdy plastic ring for the hanger (optional)
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Print and cut out star templates
  2. Decide on a pattern for your stars and how many stars of each color you will need. (You will need 3 stars to make each 3D star on the mobile.)
  3. Trace stars onto yellow and silver foam
  4. Cut out stars
  5. Cut 8 varying lengths of ribbon, including 16 to 19 inches for gathering above the rim and tying at the top

To Make Hanger and Prepare Ribbons

  1. Feed ribbon through each hole in the frame, pulling through 16 to 19 inches (or amount desired)
  2. Gather ribbon together at top, loop, and tie a knot to make a hanger. If desired, tie and knot ribbon around a metal, wood, or sturdy plastic ring to make the hanger.
  3. To keep rim in place, feed a bead onto the ribbon up to the bottom of the frame. Tie a knot in the ribbon to secure the bead against the rim

To Make 3D Stars

  1. Pick three foam stars and fold them in half lengthwise to create a crease
  2. Remove the paper backing
  3. Choose two stars and while keeping the creases in place, match and stick together one arm, one leg, and half of the top point of two stars
  4. Carefully position the ribbon down the middle of the two stars, and while keeping the creases in place, add the third star. You will match and stick together the left arm and leg of this last star to the left-hand star and the right arm and leg to the right-hand star. Push together in the middle to maintain the creases all around the star.

To Make Flat Stars

  1. Take two foam stars and remove the paper backing
  2. Lay the ribbon down the middle of one star
  3. Attach the second star on top

Repeat with each star, staggering them along the ribbons by color and size

Hang your mobile!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-cover-English

You can find Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! at these booksellers

Amazon | Books-a-MillionBookshop | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-diaper-you-cover-Spanish

You can find ¡Brilla, brilla, pañalito! / Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! at these booksellers

Amazon | Books-a-Million | Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review